<font color=blue>I know brand matters for lots of things, but when it comes to a water pump and thermostat, is there something I should be looking for? avoiding? I was just going to run to pep boys/napa and pick one up... and then I thought" can't I make this BETTER than stock?
It depends on how you look at it. You can buy a $49 regular everyday parts house waterpump that never,never give you any problems or the can buy the new improved high performance space age NASA APPROVED waterpump for $300 and it never give you any problem. The only difference is the extra $250 you spent to go down the road at the same operation temperature
I have had bad luck in the 258 with STANT brand thermostats,i now buy Robert Shaw and have had good luck with them,only a couple $$ more.Got mine at BIG A Auto parts,rest may have em too.I also have 2 years on ElCheapo water pump from Advance with no problems.